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Carrie A. Chase – 2023 National Dog Show Best in Show Judge

Carrie A. Chase with her dog.


Interview with Carrie A. Chase – 2023 National Dog Show Best in Show Judge

Can I describe my reaction to receiving an invitation to judge Best in Show at this year’s National Dog Show presented by Purina?

My reaction was what likely many in the position of being an owner/breeder/handler (who is unknown by most of the show dog world) would say: “Who, me?” Especially since it was my first all-breed Best in Show assignment outside of NOHS and Specialties.


What does it mean to head the judging panel at this historic show?

The traditions of this club, and its well-known and highly respected membership, gave this assignment an extra meaning for me. I feel it was an incredible honor to be asked to adjudicate Best in Show here.


In my opinion, how does this show differ from other AKC events?

This show emphasizes the importance of the public and their love for purebred dogs. As a benched show, it allows lay people to directly chat with breeders and handlers, get in close proximity with many breeds, and feel the excitement of competition. I hope it reminds those of us in the fancy that we need the public. They love dogs for many of the same reasons we do, they provide loving homes for our pets that aren’t shown, and they appreciate how important dogs are to human quality of life. This show is one important connection with the public that keeps our sport from being negatively impacted by the activists who would stop it. The public loves their purebred dogs! Kudos to the Kennel Club of Philadelphia for recognizing this.


What was I thinking or feeling moments before I stepped into the center of the BIS ring?

I was understandably nervous, but I’m very used to being in front of people, so that wasn’t the main emotion. Mostly it was completing the task the way my judging mentor, the late Samuel Lawrence, taught me: Keep the audience involved. Show them by your actions that you are giving each dog a chance to win. Appreciate the dog and handler team by your judging routine. If you do this, you will keep people watching.


Was there a heightened energy coming from the dog and handler teams? Did I feel the energy of the spectators?

Absolutely! Being in the spotlight of television and knowing millions of people are watching most certainly adds an element that is unusual! And the spectators were super, cheering on their favorites, even—or especially—when something unusual happened, like a dog looking at a camera suspiciously.


How challenging was this assignment? Can I share my selection process?

This assignment was uniquely challenging because not only was it in front of a huge audience, it was my first Best in Show Assignment. So, that was a little pressure!

My target was making my selection process similar to my Group judging process. First assessing breed type and the Breed Standard, understanding the purpose of the breed, and then imagining how that dog would perform the job for which he was bred. I come from horses (show hunters & jumpers), so I am always keen to associate form with function. I reviewed the Standards of the Group winners, and did my best to apply them. Showmanship was the icing on the cake, but it did play its part in my decision-making process.


Do I have a word or two about my Best in Show winner? About the Group winners?

The BIS winner put everything together today. His form to function, terrier temperament, and beautiful condition, as well as saying to everyone, “This is MY day!” made him my winner. The RBIS, to me, is so well put together, feminine yet with appropriate substance, and my thoughts immediately went to her job. If I had a carriage, I would want her trotting next to me. She could do it all day and I could have placed my coffee cup on her back without it spilling.

I remember a famous judge once saying that judges should start out judging Best in Show, because with just seven outstanding dogs left at the end, you can’t go wrong with what your peers have sent you. There is some truth to this. I’m sure many others would have done things differently—and their winners every bit as deserving—but today, I was the lucky one!


This show has been a Thanksgiving Day tradition in America. Is there anything I would like to say on behalf of the Kennel Club of Philadelphia and the show’s sponsors?

While I can’t speak for the Kennel Club or the Sponsor, I feel they must be thrilled to present our sport in a light that shows the results of decades of hard work by breeders, the love of the dog that Americans share, and the huge role that purebred dogs play as companions and family members for millions of people.

Carrie A. Chase

Are there specific ways in which this show furthers the cause of purebred dogs?

Absolutely! It showcases the many roles dogs play—as companions, service and therapy dogs, crime fighting, security, disease detection, and farm workers. This show increases awareness of dogs in many areas and it educates the public that it is very acceptable and okay to have purebred dogs, despite negative press by some activists. The human interest stories about working and therapy dogs, presented by David Frei, add tremendously to sharing this knowledge to lay people. It’s so important that we do this.


Now that my assignment is complete, what does this show mean to me personally?

Only a few people know that I started in dogs accidentally when I happened to purchase a Corgi puppy as a pet. Little did I know the breeder was a top Pembroke breeder who insisted she show my puppy. It’s taken off from there and has changed my life in a multitude of ways.

I feel like this assignment has been like the star on top of a really great Christmas tree! So exciting and special. What a feeling!

Thank you, Kennel Club of Philadelphia, for this experience, I will never forget it!